Moran Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, Catholicos of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, India, will visit Pope Francis this week.
The meeting will form part of the Catholicos' pastoral visit to orthodox faithful in Europe.
The Malankara Orthodox Church is divided into two communities: the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in full communion with the Orthodox Syrian Patriarch of Antioch, and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church led by His Holiness Moran Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, (automous orthodox Church). The Orthodox Syrian Church currently has over 2.5 million members in thirty dioceses, with more than 33 bishops and 1,700 priests.
Two important meetings took place between Pope John Paul II and the Catholicos Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews I, in Rome in 1983 and in Kottayam in 1986; on the latter occasion the Mixed International Commission for Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church was established. In 1990, the common Christological Declaration was signed.
Since 1989 two parallel dialogues have taken place annually in Kerala, southern India; one with each of the two communities. These dialogues relate to questions on three main themes: the history of the Church in India, ecclesiology, and common witness.
The Catholicos Moran Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, as well as meeting with the Holy Father on Thursday, will visit the tomb of the Apostle Peter and will be received by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.